This is the third installment of the Borderlands History Interview Project (BHIP), a series that showcases the voices of respected historians in the field to discuss their current projects and views on the future of borderlands history.
While in the Ethnic Studies suite of the Department of American Culture, I had the opportunity to chat with Anthony Mora, Associate Professor of History, Latina/o Studies, and American Culture at the University of Michigan. We conversed about his current work as well as his thoughts on the state of/on borderlands history. Since this interview took place on a Friday, Dr. Mora and I had the whole Ethnic Studies suite to ourselves, providing us a space to engage in a great discussion about borders, borderlands, and bordered lands as well as the interconnections between borderlands and Chicano/a history.
Before I speak about our interview, let me first provide some details on his life leading to Ann Arbor. Anthony Mora was born and raised in Albuquerque. He earned a Bachelors of Arts with summa cum laude in History from the University of New Mexico in 1996. Directly after undergrad, Mora attended graduate school at the University of Notre Dame. By 2002, he obtained a PhD in History and began to teach at Texas A&M University in College Station. Mora then secured a tenure-track position in the Departments of History and American Culture at the University of Michigan. In addition to his 2011 monograph, Border Dilemmas, Mora has published in journals like the Western Historical Quarterly and has reviewed several books in several quarterlies such as Southwestern Historical Quarterly. His current research looks at the history of Mexican American and African American interactions in the U.S. mid-west.
Mora’s first monograph published by Duke University Press, Border Dilemmas: Racial and National Uncertainties in New Mexico, 1848-1912, interrogates notions of race, nation, and place in the nineteenth century borderlands. Mora argues that constructions of Mexican and Mexican American identity were very much contingent on the social and political ideologies set forth by the imagined U.S., and Mexican state. His book demonstrates how national identity was more influenced by “presumed stabilities of race and gender than vice versa.” Border Dilemmas traces the historical records of two southern New Mexican towns – Las Cruces and La Mesilla – and how conceptions of nationality and nationalism affected understandings of race and citizenship. Through the operation of court records, print media, diplomatic correspondences, law, and ethnic studies, Mora unravels a history of imagined and performed citizenships.
Mora, who is a listener of BHIP, agreed with the comments put forth by some of our previous interviewees. He sees borderlands history as a space in which scholars can both utilize its methodologies as well build upon its historical imagination. One theme that shapes and engages Mora’s work is place. He believes that place is a great apparatus in which scholars can unravel hierarchies of power. When asked about the future of the field, Mora commented on the need to study cross-racial coalitions to further elucidate the unstructured past and “messiness” of the borderlands region.
To listen to the full interview:
We thank Dr. Mora for taking the time out of his busy schedule to talk with the blog. Thank you so much! Thank you so much to Dr. Michael K. Bess and Lina Murillo for their support and tech savviness in editing the interview!!